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Full text of "The Gay Genius"

i8o                            THE GAY GENIUS

The third was Tseyu, who had written to the Emperor begging for
his brother's pardon and offering to surrender all his own official ranks
and office to redeem him. In the testimony, Tseyu had not been charged
with receiving any seriously slanderous poems from his brother, but on
account of the family connection he was degraded and sent to Kao-an,
about a hundred and sixty miles from the detention place of his brothes^
to sell wine at a government bureau.

Of the others, Chang Fangping and another high official were fined
thirty catties of copper, while Szema Kuang, Fan Chen, and eighteen
other friends of Su Tungpo were fined twenty catties of copper each.

Su Tungpo was let out of prison on New Year's Eve, after detention
for four months and twelve days. Coming out of the prison gate on the
north of the Tungcheng Street, he stopped for a while, sniffed the air,
and felt pleasure in the breeze blowing on his face, hi the noise of
the magpies, and in watching the people passing by on horseback in^
the streets.

Incorrigible as he was, that very day he wrote two poems again
wherein he said that "facing the wine cup" he "felt like coming out of
a dream", and trying his poetic pen, he "found it was already inspired".

"In all my life, writing has brought me into trouble.
From now on the lesser my fame, the better it is for me.
I feel like the old man's horse that has returned to the fort,
And will no longer have youth's cock-fights in the east city."

His lines began to flow again, and in these two poems there wemd
certainly at least two lines that under the scrutiny of the same prtJs?
cutors could equally convict him of disrespect for the Emperor. The
reference to an old man at the fort losing his horse was harmless
enough, since it referred to a parable that losing one's horse did not
mean bad luck and finding it again did not mean good luck; in other
words, one never knew what was good luck or bad. But the phrase
"youth's cock-fights" refers to a certain Chia Chang. In his old age
Chia told people that when he was a boy, he had obtained the Tang
emperor's favour with his fighting cocks and the emperor had treated
him as court jester and an actor. The point could be stretched thaT-
once more he was referring to those at court as "jesters and actors"-^
term of abuse. In another line he said that he had "stolen an office^
that is, occupied a post without qualifications; but again, the phrase
used was taken from a letter written by a great scholar and addressed
to Tsao Tsao, a man popularly considered a great hypocrite and a
wicked ruler. On completing the poem, Su threw down his pen and
said: "I am really incorrigible."